As the Islamic Caucasus Emirate announced the death of its founder and first emir, Doku Umarov, the group also named his successor, Ali Abu Muhammad al Dagestani.
Today, Kavkaz Center tweeted that Ali Abu Muhammad al Dagestani, the “Caucasus Emirate’s Sharia Judge,” was “elected as new CE Emir by leaders of CE provinces.” Kavkaz Center also released a video of of Ali Abu Muhammad, in which he praised Umarov and said he has a monumental task in leading the Islamic Caucasus Emirate
Ali Abu Muhammad was appointed by Umarov as the group’s qadi, or senior judge, in October 2010. He assumed the role as the Islamic Caucasus Emirate’s qadi after his predecessor, Sayfullah, was killed by Russian forces in August 2010.
At the time of his appointment as qadi, Ali Abu Muhammad said he was not qualified to serve but must do so given the situation in the Caucasus:
As we all know, our Emir, Doku Abu Usman, appointed me as the Qadi of Caucasus Emirate after the martyrdom of our brother Sayfullah, although I do not deserve this charge, because our Faqih (scholars expert in Fiqh) specified conditions and defined the qualifications that a Sharia Qadi should have.
One of these conditions is that he must be a Mujtahid scholar (who is able to perform Ijtihad – the interpretation of the Koran and Sunnah). I am not one of them. Due to the lack of such people, not only in the CE, but also outside of it, I was forced to accept this heavy burden, may Allah forgive me.
Ali Abu Muhammad stayed out of the public eye after his appointment as qadi. He weighed in on the kidnapping of the son of a prominent Dagestani figure in October 2010. A few weeks later, Kavkaz Center claimed that his ruling led to the the release of the son.
It is unclear how the death of Umarov and the appointment of Ali Abu Muhammad as the new emir will impact the fortunes of the Islamic Caucasus Emirate. Jihadists in the Caucasus have weathered the deaths of senior leaders in the past. And the jihad has spread from Chechnya into the neighboring republics of Dagestan and Ingushetia, and even into the heart of the Russian Republic.